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Millions of workers in India participate in general strike

7 March, 2012More than 100 million workers participated in the historic all India general strike on February 28, 2012. The strike was called by trade union centres in India, demanding urgent intervention to control prices, employment creation, strict enforcement of labour laws, equal pay for equal work, universal social security cover for unorganised sector workers and immediate ratification of the ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

INDIA: For the past three years central trade unions in India have been agitating against the Government of India's anti-workers policies and mobilized millions of workers to pressurize the government to immediately address burning issues faced by the workers.

In response to all India general strike call given by all central trade unions, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC, TUCC, LPF, SEWA on February 28, 2012, millions of workers struck work. The massive strike hit both organized and unorganized sectors of the economy namely coal, steel, petroleum, telecom, defence, banks, insurance, electricity, transport, port & dock, anganwadis, construction, brick-kilns, beedi making etc. IMF affiliates in different parts of the country took part in the strike.

Striking workers pressed on the Government to take immediate measures on following ten demands:

  • Concrete measures to contain price rise;
  • Concrete measures for creation of employment;
  • Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violations;
  • Universal social security cover for the unorganized sector workers without any restriction and creation of a National Social Security Fund with adequate resources;
  • Stoppage of disinvestment in central and state profit-making and socially strategic PSUs;
  • No Contractorisation of work of permanent / perennial nature and payment of wages and benefits to the contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the industry/establishment;
  • Amendment of Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules and  fixation of statutory minimum wage at not less than Rs 10,000/- with indexation;
  • Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of Bonus, Provident Fund; Increase the quantum of gratuity;
  • Assured Pension for all;
  • Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and immediate ratification of the ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association) and 98 (Right to organise and Collective bargaining).

In a press release on February 28, trade unions criticized the government's lack of willingness to engage in meaningful discussions. Though the strike was announced by trade unions on December 2, 2011, the Government of India did not care to call the central trade unions for discussion. The working people and their unions would no way accept such indifference and neglect on the part of the Government and carry forward their struggle to a higher pitch if their basic demands are not addressed through concrete remedial action, unions stated in the press release.